MIAMI — MIAMI -- Superman fell out of the sky. Nureyev nose-dived during "Swan Lake." Picasso couldn't draw a happy face. Michael Jordan couldn't make a jump shot.
Of course, after taking 22 shots and missing 20, Jordan got his game back, scoring 20 points in the fourth quarter as the Chicago Bulls launched a furious rally but fell to the Miami Heat, 87-80, yesterday, missing their chance to end the Eastern Conference finals.
The Bulls, now leading the series 3-1, closed from a 21-point deficit to 79-78 on Jordan's 19-footer with 2: 19 left and had a shot for the lead, which Jordan took, of course. He had shot on the previous 13 possessions.
This was a lean-in 15-footer. Surprise! It missed. They got one more shot to tie -- a Scottie Pippen three-point brick -- and the Heat exhaled.
"I was like most of the coaches that watch him [Jordan] go off on one of those runs of his," said Miami's Pat Riley. "You hope the game ends before he gets all the way back."
Jordan finished with 29 points, making nine of 35 shots and going 0-for-8 on three-point tries. But he hit 18 of the Bulls' points in a row in one stretch and 20 of their 23 in the fourth quarter.
Of course, he might have scored more early had he not spent Sunday playing 46 holes of golf at Turnberry Isle on a steamy, 90-degree South Florida afternoon.
For the uninitiated, 18 holes is a full round and a day's work for most golfers. Jordan and the club's assistant pro were trying to go 54 -- three full rounds -- but darkness fell first.
"I let him have the day off as far as work," said Bulls coach Phil Jackson. "They had their opportunity to have a good time.
"It might have cost us. But that's the way it is this time of the year. Sometimes it's better to do things than stick your nose to the grindstone all the time."
Did Jackson think the golf slowed Jordan? "Well, you saw the game," said Jackson. "Ask him."
Jordan said it was no factor.
This wasn't the way the Bulls had this planned. After romping in Game 3, they got the obligatory lecture from Jackson, reminding them of last spring's failure to close out Seattle, which won twice and sprang back into the series.
Those losses were only the Bulls' fourth and fifth failures in 22 postseason series, dating to the start of their first title run in 1991. They were not only confident but loose at a light Sunday morning practice, enjoying Alonzo Mourning's predicament, after Zo guaranteed a win in Game 4.
Pippen called it "pretty dumb."
Said Jordan, grinning: "What else is he gonna say? Additional motivation for us. Additional pressure for him."
Jordan also noted the Bulls' 10-1 record during their trying, distraction-studded postseason showed they were "consummate professionals." Of course, he didn't specify the sport.
Whether it was golf, Heat defense, bad karma or the moon in the seventh house, Jordan came out missing yesterday, one shot after another.
He was 0-for-11 at halftime, when the Heat led 47-31. He was 0-for-14 before finally hitting a 15-footer with 8: 09 left in the third quarter and the Heat up 56-35.
His first basket started a 22-5 run that shot the Bulls right back into it, closing to 61-57 by the end of the third quarter. The Heat fought back in the fourth, jumping it back up to 72-60, but here came Mike again.
The Bulls' triangle offense was filed as Jordan took shot after shot, knocking down six of eight in his 18-point run, plus six free throws. His last hoop was a fadeaway 17-footer from the right wing, cutting it to 79-78.
To show who was in charge, Jordan came down on one leg and froze right there, striking a pose in front of Riley on the sideline and giving him a look.
That was the end of magic time yesterday. The Heat lives on, until tomorrow's Game 5 in Chicago, at least.
"Do I have any predictions?" said Mourning later, laughing. "No. I'm going to keep my mouth shut."
The Heat, however, is considering buying Jordan a membership to the swank Medinah club outside Chicago. It needs any help it can get.
Pub Date: 5/27/97